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By Dipo Olowookere

The Chairman Emeritus of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, congratulated the board and management of Zenith Bank Plc on the payment of dividends to shareholders.

Speaking at the bank’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Wednesday April 6, 2022 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, he said investors love having Zenith Bank shares in their portfolios because it never fails to pay dividends to shareholders.

He praised the financial institution for its consistency in paying dividends to shareholders just like it did yesterday in crediting their accounts with N97.33 billion.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the final dividend payment of N2.80 per share proposed by the Board was unanimously approved, bringing the total cash reward for the financial year 2021 to N3.10. per share.

Another shareholder of the company present at the rally, Mr. Faruk Umar, who is the Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Shareholders Rights (AARNS), also applauded the bank for its rewarding loyalty.

“The bank is doing very well. All ratios and indices have increased. And most importantly, while we were in a meeting, I got my dividend credit alert. It is very commendable.

“The bank’s leadership has been very effective; we thank Jim Ovia for his leadership, he increased the dividend despite the country’s economic difficulties, and I think the GMD is doing very well.

“I congratulate the bank’s management and staff, including the board of directors, and I am very confident that this year would also be a very good one for the bank,” he said.

Business post reports that despite a difficult macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zenith Bank increased its gross profit year-on-year by 10%, from N696.5 billion in 2020 to 765.6 billion naira in 2021.

This was supported by a 23% growth in non-interest income from 251.7 billion naira to 309 billion naira and a 2% increase in interest income from 420.8 billion naira to 427, 6 billion naira.

During the year, pre-tax profit also increased by 10% from N255.9 billion to N280.4 billion, due to revenue growth and very strong management of the cash portfolio which increased efficiency, resulting in a decline. interest charges of 12% from N121.1 billion in 2020 to N106.8 billion in the current year. This further resulted in a 7% increase in net interest income to N320.8 billion in 2021 from N299.7 billion in 2020.

It was observed that last year, the lender increased its customer deposits by 21% to 6.47 trillion naira from 5.34 trillion naira, with the growth of businesses and individuals.

A breakdown showed that retail deposits increased by N146 trillion, from N1.72 trillion in 2020 to N1.87 trillion in 2021, thanks to a continued campaign of retail deposits combined with strategic rebalancing of its funding base, which has helped reduce the cost of funding. from 2.1% to 1.5% for the current year.

Although operating expenses increased by 13%, the growth remains below the rate of inflation and the Group improved its earnings per share (EPS) by 6%, from N7.34 to N7.78.

Additionally, Zenith Bank increased its total assets by 11% from N8.48 trillion in 2020 to N9.45 trillion in 2021, mainly due to growth in customer deposits.

With the steady resumption of economic activities, the Group cautiously increased its gross lending by 20% from N2.9 trillion to N3.5 trillion, with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 4.19% vs. 4.29% per year. year earlier.

Zenith Bank also recorded impressive liquidity and capital adequacy ratios of 71.6% and 21.0%, which remained above regulatory thresholds of 30% and 15%, respectively.

While commenting on the bank’s performance at the AGM, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu said, “If you look at the history of the bank over the years, Zenith Bank has always grown, and even during the pandemic we have maintained a reasonable positive growth trajectory.

“The growth comes as we deploy our digital capability to grow more businesses, simplify our service processes, make our processes more efficient and address customer complaints.

“Besides developing new products, we are discovering new verticals, especially in the retail segment, which are generating significant revenue.”

He added that: “Meeting shareholder expectations means we have to work harder. The team is dodged, hardworking, resilient, and most importantly, we have a very supportive board that comes with senior guidance.

For his part, the founder and chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, thanked the shareholders for their unwavering loyalty, which allowed the bank to rise to the top of the country’s financial services industry, and the assured of the bank’s commitment to consistently deliver superior value to them.

In recognition of its excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria at the 2021 World Finance Banking Awards, Best Bank in Nigeria at the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, and Best in Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom.

In addition, the bank appeared as the most valuable banking brand in Nigeria in Banker magazine’s Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, the number one bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2021 Top 1000 World Banks” ranking by The Banker Magazine and Retail Bank of the Year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions Awards (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.

Likewise, Zenith Bank was honored as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the 2020 ThisDay Awards and emerged winners in four categories at the 2021 SERAS (Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility) Awards, winning the ” Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organization for Africa”.